O Pakistan

To Pakistan. To the country the great Jinnah gave his life for. To the soil of the motherland and to finally understanding the love for the mitti1 as our elders used to say, that overwhelming feeling as you step out of the airplane and the airport. Through the smoky air, through the very Pakistani smells, you can almost feel it. These are your people, this is your land, your language, your history. This is your home, my home.

To Pakistan. To home. Because more than anything, that is what it will always mean to most of us. Wherever we will go, whatever we become, the one place where we will always be welcomed, will be this. Like they say, you can take yourself out of the land, but never the land out of yourself.


all photos from our time in Bahawalpur in December 2013.

To the people, the land, the food, the beginning of our stories. To all that is good about it that we can never forget. To the country that continues to survive because of the hundreds and thousands of nameless everyday heroes that work for it and get forgotten amid the stories of the many that malign its name. And to the resilience and the courage of its people, to continue in the face of turmoil.

And to all of us that began our stories there, from its cities and its colleges and its universities, but then moved on to greener pastures, may each of us from our corners of the world, find something we can do for its cause and its people. We owe it to it’s mitti.

A very happy Independence Day2 to all the Pakistanis from around the world.

Thanks for reading and much love.



1Mitti is an Urdu world that means the soil.

2Independence Day observed annually on August 14, is a national holiday in Pakistan, commemorating the day when Pakistan achieved independence and was declared a sovereign nation, following the end of the British Raj in 1947.


Around Pakistan: Gulzar Mahal in Bahawalpur



After the visit to the Darbar Mahal, we got the chance to see this gem. Another one of the famous palaces in Bahawalpur, the Gulzar Mahal was built in the time of Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan IV and its beautiful architecture contains European influences just like Noor Mahal.  We were only able to view the outside of this magnificent palace on our visit with my sister-in-law and her husband because of security concerns on that day. Interestingly the Gulzar Mahal was the first building in Bahawalpur to be equipped with concealed electric wiring, and the system operated using a diesel generator. it is also the only site in the area with a supply of sweet drinking water, unlike the saline water found elsewhere. the water supply was tapped through a pump drilled on the premises.


Here’s some interesting history about Bahawalpur and its founding Nawabs,

The Abbasi tribe from whom the ruling family of Bahawalpur belong, claim descent from the Abbasid Caliphs. The tribe came from Sindh to Bahawalpur and assumed independence during the decline of the Durrani Empire. The Abbasid ameers ruled over the state of Bahawalpur for over 200 years (from 1727-1955). Although the Nawabs were autocratic rulers, they did a lot for the development of the State. The first Nawab laid the foundation of the State in 1727, with only a small locality. As they started expanding, not only did they gain a lot of land, they also made it one of the richest states of the sub-continent. A lot of development work was done in the State in all fields. Schools, colleges and later a university were opened. A number of scholarships were given to students even outside the State. Railway track was laid by the Nawabs in the State. Hospitals and dispensaries were established. Canals were dug and the Sultej Valley Project was completed to provide water to the lands of Bahawalpur region. The State had its own administrative and judicial system. Under their rule, the state developed an impressive architectural legacy and as the state grew, so too did its architecture, with the building of forts, palaces and mosques. Their style of architecture cleverly blended both local and foreign influences- delhi, mughal, sikh and even european. The Noor Mahal and Gulzar Mahal for example reveal details borrowed from European architecture. As Bahawalpur emerged as the Abbasids new royal capital after Derawar, it became the heart of Abbasid architecture in India.  Most of the states well known palaces were completed in the reign of ameer Sadiq Muhammad Khan IV.

Resources: Wikipedia and this resource


Read more about Bahawalpur and its golden past:

Bahawalpur, the Princely State

Sights in the Sands of Cholistan. Bahawalpur History and Architecture by Major General Shujaat Zamir Dar


Thanks for stopping by. Lots of love.

For more posts from Around Pakistan go here.


AROUND PAKISTAN: Darbar Mahal in Bahawalpur Pakistan

A photo story from our visit to this palace, the Darbar Mahal in Bahawalpur last winter during our trip to Pakistan. 


















The Darbar Mahal was originally built to accommodate the central offices of the state of Bahawalpur and after the creation of Pakistan served to hold the ministers offices and to conduct state assembly sessions. This palace is believed to be constructed in 1907 and is now under the possession of the military of Pakistan. The beautiful red brick palace stands out between the lush grassy lawns. Right next to the palace also stands the Darbar Mahal Mosque as well as a ‘bara dari’ or the summer pavilion.

Since the Pakistan Army took over the restoration project for these treasures, they have been beautifully taken back to their original glory. Wish they were more accessible to the general public so everyone could enjoy their majestic beauty though. You can get a pass if you know someone in the forces like our brother-in-law got for us, thankfully! We even got to enjoy a cup of tea in the courtyard as it neared sunset time. What a bonus:)


Check back next week for glimpses for the last palace we visited along with some interesting history about the Nawabs of Bahawalpur.


Thanks for stopping by. Lots of love.

Also see Cholistan Desert near Bahawalpur // Central Library near Bahawalpur // More photo stories from around Pakistan // Photo stories from around the Seattle area


AROUND Pakistan: Cholistan Desert near Bahawalpur


Hello lovelies, continuing with some photo stories of places from our recent trip to see our families and here is one from our time in Bahawalpur1. We drove down to where we could see the Cholistan desert, with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, and absolutely enjoyed watching the sun go down as Anya had fun digging her gold shoes in the dirt ;). It was so serene and peaceful. We loved it. Here is a peek.






The Cholistan Desert, locally known as Rohi, lies near Bahawalpur in Pakistan and covers an area of 10,200 square miles. Its connects into the Thar desert which then extends into India. The desert has an average rainfall of 5 inches a year and there is very little cultivation. The area was once well watered by a river, now called the Hakra in Pakistan and which was known in Vedic times as the Sarasvati. All along the 500-km of dried up river are over 400 archaeological sites, which date back to the Indus civilization 4500 years ago and are clustered around Derawar Fort, one of the major landmarks of the Cholistan desert.


For more photo stories from around Pakistan go here.

Thanks for reading. Lots of love.



1 Bahawalpur, my husband’s hometown is a desert city in the south of Punjab in Pakistan.

Around Islamabad: SOS Village


On our last visit, we finally made a little visit to SOS Children’s Village in Islamabad. Many of the children here are those that were left with no home and no family after the devastating earthquake in 2005. The children attend school on the premises as well as attend after-school educational and recreational activities. It was such a beautiful and humbling experience for all of us, to meet all those sweet children and just spend some time getting to know them over a game of passing the parcel and some quick snacks. I really wanted Anya to experience this and she loved going around with me asking the children their names and just making chit chat with them.

Here are some pictures my sister Waliya and I took of the beautiful children and just our experience there. Take a look.


SOS Children’s Villages of Pakistan is a private social welfare organization affiliated with the world’s largest orphan and abandoned children charity SOS Kinderdorf International. SOS Pakistan is one of a large family of SOS Children Villages active in 132 counteries and territories worldwide. It was established in 1975, with the first village in Lahore established through the support of SOS Kinderdorf International. Since then , they have been on their own. Outside Europe, SOS Pakistan is the only SOS that is able to finance itself from donations generated within the country. The special feature of SOS Children’s Villages is that they are not traditional orphanages. They provide children with a home and family. Every effort is made to enrich children with strong moral values, a good education and skills that will enable them to become productive citizens.


The SOS Children’s Village in Islamabad is still under construction and needs all the help it can get. And here are some ways we can contribute. If you are in Islamabad, you can also call them for volunteer opportunities.



While we were there we also decided to include them in our joy and have a little birthday party to celebrate Anya turning 4, with cake, goodie bags, snacks, birthday songs and a silly game of passing-the-parcel with the sweet kids. It made for one truly memorable birthday celebration, Alhamdullilah.

Thanks for reading. Lots of love.


AROUND PAKISTAN: Central Library Bahawalpur


The Central Library of Bahawalpur is a historical library in the city of Bahawalpur1. I had been dying to visit this beautiful library ever since I heard of it. When they were growing up, my husband and his sister were regular members and I’m so glad Anya got to visit the library of her dad’s childhood on this trip.

We were not disappointed at all on our visit and I could imagine many an afternoons spent at the peaceful and oh-so-colorful children section just reading books to my girl. The two librarians in the children’s section were so friendly. Anya loved going through their books, the educational puzzles they had laid out and playing in the little play area they had in the center. An afternoon definitely well-spent. Here’s a peek.









Founded on 8th March 1924, the Central Library of Bahawalpur, is built with a classical Italian style of architecture. The library boasts historic manuscripts, more than a hundred thousand books in both English and Urdu, a children’s library, a newspaper collection beginning before the independence of Pakistan till date, a Braille Library, a computer training center as well as audio-visual collections.2




If you have kids and are ever in the area, I definitely recommend you go visit.

Thanks for reading. Lots of love.

More in this series here.


1 Bahawalpur is the 12th largest city of Pakistan, located in Punjab. The city was once the capital of the princely state and later province Bahawalpur, and home to various Nawabs(rulers). Also from the blog, memories from Bahawalpur.

2 A link to a short video blog in Urdu about this library

AROUND PAKISTAN: Lok Virsa & Folk Heritage Museum in Islamabad


Hey lovelies, so here’s another photo journey from our time in Pakistan. Lok Virsa is one of the older sites in Islamabad and the center of many cultural festivals. We were going after a long time and thoroughly enjoyed the many little art galleries, handicraft shops and the live music. My mom has always loved taking us to museums and we have probably visited every museum in the numerous cities of Pakistan we have lived in, so it was bittersweet as we explored the cultural museum.















Lok Virsa Museum, also known as the Folk Heritage Museum, is one of the finest cultural museums in Pakistan. It works towards creating an awareness of cultural legacy by collecting, documenting, preserving and disseminating folk and traditional heritage. It depicts the history and living traditions of the people of Pakistan both from the mainstream and the remotest regions of the country. The location of this landmark achievement at Islamabad enriches the federal capital and adds to its attractions. Source

The museum was truly a pleasant surprise because of the detailed displays worthy of a whole afternoon. A must-see also if you have kids or visitors/tourists with you to tell them more about the history of the people and the land.

Thanks for reading and lots of love.

Go here for more in this series.


(I did not see any signs about photography inside so ended up taking pictures which I’m sharing here. I know it might not be allowed but I feel its important to share a glimpse of the dedication behind this and hopefully encourage others to visit it too. It was sad that the entrance fee was so nominal considering the work that obviously had been put in yet I personally had not heard much about the museum. Living in the States, I know that the entrance fees for museums and tourist sites here are not cheap and so I felt even more passionate about it and hence sharing these here.)